Muralist Nikko Locander, also known as Ali Six, said he wants people to find hope in the 15-foot-high mural “The Butterfly Effect” he created to grace a Wicker Park train embankment.
“The message is ‘the day is darkest before dawn’ and that’s why the background is a really bright red that captures the viewer’s eye from afar from the street,” Locander said.
“The Butterfly Effect” was commissioned by the Wicker Park Chamber of Commerce.
“The butterfly effect being, a lot of people look at a negative thing that happens in their life and it really gets down on them,” Locander said. “But, if you kind of look at it in a positive way, things do happen for a reason. And even though the outcome right now is bad, it might bring something forth that’s better in life.”
Locander’s artistic alter ego Ricky the raccoon takes center stage in the Wicker Park mural.
“A raccoon kind of embodied everything I was into as far as like the urban kind of character. Raccoons are within the city a lot. They travel at night, just like in graffiti, go and do your business at night,” Locander said. “I’ve definitely been able to express myself through him. Like everything that I’m interested in, everything I love, from basketball, skateboarding, art, I portrayed through him.”
Though graffiti is no longer his habit, Locander said that learning color theory and how to spray paint through graffiti helped him develop his own style.
“I’ve always been into art, since I was five years old, always created illustrations. And then when I was in high school, I started doing graffiti – and then through that, I got into trouble a couple of times and I decided this isn’t how I wanted my life to go.”
He credits the vibrant Humboldt Park neighborhood and community arts programs for an early understanding of how public art can contribute to community culture.
“The culture of that area is very expressive. So I was able to see a lot of that art around the area and going to the park boathouses after school,” Locander said. “They had art classes there and they taught me different ways to express myself through that.”